Jesus' Limited Human Nature and Infinite Divine Wrath and Suffering

Status
Not open for further replies.

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a question that I’m not sure if there’s an answer to. Since Jesus’ passive obedience was performed in his human nature, how could he have endured infinite wrath if his human nature is finite? I understand Jesus had infinite value as a person, but my question is how he could have suffered an infinite amount? The Westminster Confession of Faith states that,


"It was requisite that the mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God”


But what does it mean that the divine nature “sustained and kept the human nature”? I've never heard this expounded on. Doesn't this require a communication of divine attributes to the human nature?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Vos states it succinctly:

"His divine nature gave an infinite value to his human nature, so that he could suffer and die for many people at the same time."

Johannes Geerhardus Vos. Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary (Kindle Locations 1336-1337). Kindle Edition.

Looking at it from the perspective of forensic justice, the value of Jesus' human nature is infinite (sufficient for all).
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Vos states it succinctly:

"His divine nature gave an infinite value to his human nature, so that he could suffer and die for many people at the same time."

Johannes Geerhardus Vos. Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary (Kindle Locations 1336-1337). Kindle Edition.

Looking at it from the perspective of forensic justice, the value of Jesus' human nature is infinite (sufficient for all).
Yes, I understand his infinite value as a person was required to make atonement, but my question is how he could have suffered an infinite amount of God's wrath in his finite human nature.

Hence, what exactly does it mean to "sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God” and how is this done without some kind of communication of divine attributes to Jesus' finite human nature?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Hence, what exactly does it mean to "sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God” and how is this done without some kind of communication of divine attributes to Jesus' finite human nature?
OK, sorry I missed what you were asking.

I don't see a need for communication of attributes, though. Sustaining the human nature falls into the same sort of category as "upholding all things by the word of His power," (Heb. 1:3 NKJ).

No divine attributes are communicated to creation while it is being upheld.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have a question that I’m not sure if there’s an answer to. Since Jesus’ passive obedience was performed in his human nature, how could he have endured infinite wrath if his human nature is finite? I understand Jesus had infinite value as a person, but my question is how he could have suffered an infinite amount? The Westminster Confession of Faith states that,


"It was requisite that the mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God”


But what does it mean that the divine nature “sustained and kept the human nature”? I've never heard this expounded on. Doesn't this require a communication of divine attributes to the human nature?
He suffered an infinite amount by dying. I take it that God "sustained and kept the human nature" in the sense that he did not sink into hell for eternity, but was raised from the dead. See the scripture proofs for that question.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
OK, sorry I missed what you were asking.

I don't see a need for communication of attributes, though. Sustaining the human nature falls into the same sort of category as "upholding all things by the word of His power," (Heb. 1:3 NKJ).

No divine attributes are communicated to creation while it is being upheld.
Why was it necessary that he have a divine nature, then? If sustaining Christ's human nature is in the same category as providentially upholding all things, then God could have sustained any human under infinite wrath regardless of the hypostatic union.

If the divine nature is just providentially upholding Christ's human nature here, why couldn't God just do that for any normal human; just put them on the cross and sustain them under His wrath? Why is it necessary that there be a hypostatic union here? I hope you see what I'm asking here.

Is the answer perhaps to be found in that this would be similar to how Jesus' miracles come from his divine nature even though they're performed in his human nature?
 
Last edited:

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
If the divine nature is just providentially upholding Christ's human nature here, why couldn't God just do that for any normal human
Because a normal human is not of infinite value in the forensic sense. At best, his sacrifice could pay for one other.

Beyond that I'm not grasping the issue.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Because a normal human is not of infinite value in the forensic sense. At best, his sacrifice could pay for one other.

Beyond that I'm not grasping the issue.
Yes, but the question of Jesus' value is different from the question of how he sustained infinite wrath.

The catechism is quite clear in connecting Christ's divine nature to his ability to sustain divine wrath:

"It was requisite that the mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God”

But if God could have sustained and kept any human from sinking under divine wrath, then it was not "requisite that the mediator should be God" as far as the enduring infinite wrath parts goes; rather it would only be requisite for the value part of it.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn

Your question in the OP is a good one. I had pondered this for years, and found the best answer in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks vol 5, (Active obedience of Christ, & His sufferings bearing our punishment; Pp 75-115) https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft05broouoft#page/75/mode/1up

Your specific question is answered here, where Brooks treats various objections to Christ's atoning work:

Objection 5. But the pains and torments that are due to man’s sins are to be everlasting, and how then can Christ’s short sufferings countervail them?

Then Brooks gives three answers to this objection, starting on page 110 (see Object. 5 near bottom of page) going up till page 112.

If you have further questions we can talk further.
 
Last edited:

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn

Your question in the OP is a good one. I had pondered this for years, and found the best answer in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks vol 5, (Active obedience of Christ, & His sufferings bearing our punishment; Pp 75-115) https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft05broouoft#page/75/mode/1up

Your specific question is answered here, where Brooks treats various objections to Christ's atoning work:

Objection 5. But the pains and torments that are due to man’s sins are to be everlasting, and how then can Christ’s short sufferings countervail them?

Then Brooks gives three answers to this objection, starting on page 110 (see Object. 5 near bottom of page) going up till page 112.

If you have further questions we can talk further.
Thank you. I read through this, but it still doesn't answer my question. Brooks is answering the question of how Christ could have paid an eternal penalty in a finite period of time (the answer being that it's an infinite penalty poured out in time and therefore is equivalent to eternity as Brooks says, "Christ, God-man, suffered punishment in measure in- finite, and therefore there is no ground why he should endure it eternally"). My question is how he could have actually endured that, given that his finite human nature suffered under an infinite amount of wrath. It seems to me the only way Christ could have endured an infinite amount of wrath in his human nature is either his human nature somehow taking on divine properties or to argue that God providentially sustained his human nature, but if you say that, God could have done this with anyone, so we would have to say the Westminster catechism is wrong when it says, "It was requisite that the mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God”.

Really, the question could be, what about the hypostatic union enables the divine nature to sustain Jesus' human nature under infinite wrath in a way it wouldn't be able to do with one who's human nature isn't united to it?
 
Last edited:

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn

You said, “My question is how he could have actually endured that, given that his finite human nature suffered under an infinite amount of wrath.”

It comes down to, not a nature separated from the Person, but the one Person with two natures. Indeed, Jesus Christ’s human nature was sustained by His divine nature so as to endure the wrath of God against sin in the sin-bearer. I don’t think it right to call the wrath of God against mankind’s sins “infinite” — as if they were equal to His essential nature — rather the satisfaction for them could not have been paid in time, the sins being against an infinite Being, hence the Hell, the period of punishment, would be called eternal, ever unpayable in time.

But if a complete satisfaction for these sins against the infinite Being were somehow offered, that would change things. It is a common theological saying, The infinite dignity of the Person who suffered the wrath of God made full satisfaction even though the duration of the punishment was but a few hours.

It was the infinite dignity of the God-man that absorbed the infinite wrath of the offended Being. When you say “God could have done this with anyone ... (God providentially sustain[ing] his human nature)”, this misses the point.

When you frame the question, “what about the hypostatic union enables the divine nature to sustain Jesus’ human nature under infinite wrath in a way it wouldn’t be able to do with one whose human nature isn’t united to it?”, the answer would be, The Mediator must needs be both God and man, not just any man — for there is no such “any man”. The human nature of the Mediator must be sinless. In the Person of Jesus the divine nature sustains the human nature to endure the wrath so as to absorb it in full, the infinite dignity of the Person giving infinite value to the suffering He endured, thus satisfying offended Justice, regardless of the duration. It is God who must be satisfied, not our ideas of the transaction.

In the cross there is such brilliant perfection of justice and mercy both realized; as the hymn “Here is love” puts it,

On the mount of crucifixion
fountains opened deep and wide;
through the floodgates of God’s mercy
flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
poured incessant from above,
and heaven’s peace and perfect justice
kissed a guilty world in love.​

The answer to how this could be lies in the Person of the Mediator, in His sinless humanity, and His full deity, working together to procure the salvation no other person could — not God without man, not man without God. Only God could have thought up such a wondrous thing! Such perfection of wisdom and love! Upon the Mediator, both infinite glory of the LORD almighty and true sinless humanity, fell the task of reconciling the two in His own Person. At a cost we can never fathom.

Feel free to further question, Brandon.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn

You said, “My question is how he could have actually endured that, given that his finite human nature suffered under an infinite amount of wrath.”

It comes down to, not a nature separated from the Person, but the one Person with two natures. Indeed, Jesus Christ’s human nature was sustained by His divine nature so as to endure the wrath of God against sin in the sin-bearer. I don’t think it right to call the wrath of God against mankind’s sins “infinite” — as if they were equal to His essential nature — rather the satisfaction for them could not have been paid in time, the sins being against an infinite Being, hence the Hell, the period of punishment, would be called eternal, ever unpayable in time.

But if a complete satisfaction for these sins against the infinite Being were somehow offered, that would change things. It is a common theological saying, The infinite dignity of the Person who suffered the wrath of God made full satisfaction even though the duration of the punishment was but a few hours.

It was the infinite dignity of the God-man that absorbed the infinite wrath of the offended Being. When you say “God could have done this with anyone ... (God providentially sustain[ing] his human nature)”, this misses the point.

When you frame the question, “what about the hypostatic union enables the divine nature to sustain Jesus’ human nature under infinite wrath in a way it wouldn’t be able to do with one whose human nature isn’t united to it?”, the answer would be, The Mediator must needs be both God and man, not just any man — for there is no such “any man”. The human nature of the Mediator must be sinless. In the Person of Jesus the divine nature sustains the human nature to endure the wrath so as to absorb it in full, the infinite dignity of the Person giving infinite value to the suffering He endured, thus satisfying offended Justice, regardless of the duration. It is God who must be satisfied, not our ideas of the transaction.

In the cross there is such brilliant perfection of justice and mercy both realized; as the hymn “Here is love” puts it,

On the mount of crucifixion​
fountains opened deep and wide;​
through the floodgates of God’s mercy​
flowed a vast and gracious tide.​
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,​
poured incessant from above,​
and heaven’s peace and perfect justice​
kissed a guilty world in love.​

The answer to how this could be lies in the Person of the Mediator, in His sinless humanity, and His full deity, working together to procure the salvation no other person could — not God without man, not man without God. Only God could have thought up such a wondrous thing! Such perfection of wisdom and love! Upon the Mediator, both infinite glory of the LORD almighty and true sinless humanity, fell the task of reconciling the two in His own Person. At a cost we can never fathom.

Feel free to further question, Brandon.
Thank you very much for your replies.

I think I see where my thinking is stuck at the moment, now:

Each nature can only do the things that are proper to it. Christ has to suffer divine wrath. He has to do that in a human nature. Yet God's wrath is infinite. How could he ever suffer infinitely? It seems to me the divine nature "upholding" his human nature is implicitly making his human nature infinite in order to endure infinite wrath.

Right now my thinking is making it impossible for a human ((or God for that matter considering he can't suffer at all, therefore "suffer infinitely" would be completely impossible for any being since the first word applies to all creatures and the second to the Creator alone)) to suffer infinite wrath, which must not be the case considering we know Christ did and thus we are redeemed, but logically I don't currently see how this could be given Chalcedonian orthodoxy. I'm probably misunderstanding what is meant by "infinite" wrath if I had to wager on what's throwing me off.

Anyways, I don't know if that's helpful, but I'm pretty sure that's where the mental block is coming in for me right now.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn,

The wrath of God against sin is an expression of His simple Being against evil. So long as evil exists so continues the immutable, eternal, and holy wrath against it. Whenever evil arises His wrath manifests against it. It is incumbent upon God, so to speak, to destroy that which rebels against His glory and the goodness of His created order. His glory is our life and happiness; did He not extinguish it from His realm we would be undone.

The wrath of God upon the reprobates’ wickedness shall, according to His word, continue forever. It was not infinite, even though they could not ever have paid the penalty for it — also they remained sinners and rebels — hence their inability to pay it carried into eternity.

The wrath of God upon the elect for their sins — divine Justice requiring full satisfaction in a sufficient punishment perfectly equivalent to their wickedness — was expended upon the Person of the man Christ Jesus. The infinite dignity of the Person of the God-man gave an infinite worth to His suffering.

Were the sins of the elect infinite? No. Only God is infinite. Would they have suffered in eternity, seeing as they could never have given satisfaction for their sins against an infinite Being? Yes. When Jesus bore their punishment did He suffer eternally or infinitely? No. Because the infinite dignity of His Person gave infinite worth to His priestly sacrifice, He was able, in a short duration of time, to make full satisfaction in the eyes of God for all the sins of the elect. What was the nature of His suffering? That’s another topic. Brooks briefly touches on it on page 108, starting at the sentence, “He was able….”

Does this make it clearer for you?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
The wrath of God upon the reprobates’ wickedness shall, according to His word, continue forever. It was not infinite, even though they could not ever have paid the penalty for it

Steve, I think the OP's question originated from WLC question 38. There it has the language of "infinite wrath of God."

Maybe clarification on what that phrase means would help. I take it in the way you describe: that it is forever directed against wickedness. But I also see wrath described as proportional--the wages of sin is death. Death, accordingly, pays for a particular believing sinner for purposes of atonement.

Beyond that, such things become too wonderful for me

"Q38: Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?
A38: It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death; give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God’s justice, procure his favor, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies and bring them to everlasting salvation."
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Yes, thank you, Vic. I agree with how you — and WLC A38 — put it. The wrath of God is infinite, and at the same time proportional to the sin in its application to the sinner. Trying to make that clear is not easy. There is the expression of it upon those in Hell, eternal, because they can never pay the penalty. The expression of it upon the mediating Sin-bearer, infinite — for a time — till He paid the penalty in full.

There are also degrees of God’s wrath in Hell. It was “the reprobates’ wickedness” (in the quote of me) that was not infinite.
 
Last edited:

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Does this help at all?

Heidelberg:

14. Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us? None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed;1 and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin2 and redeem others from it. [1] Heb. 2:14–18. [2] Ps. 130:3.

15. What kind of mediator and redeemer, then, must we seek? One who is a true1 and righteous man,2 and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.3 [1] 1 Cor. 15:21–22, 25–26. [2] Jer. 13:16; Isa. 53:11; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:15–16. [3] Isa. 7:14; Heb. 7:26. LORD’S DAY 6

16. Why must He be a true and righteous man? Because the justice of God requires1 that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin; but one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.2 [1] Rom: 5:15. [2] Isa. 53:3–5.

17. Why must He also be true God? That by the power of His Godhead He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath,1 and so obtain for2 and restore to us righteousness and life.3 [1] Isa. 53:8; Acts 2:24. [2] Jn. 3:16; Acts 20:28. [3] 1 Jn. 1:2.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn, further but imperfect clarification:

First, per your post #8, Jesus did not perform miracles “from his divine nature”, but from the Spirit of God indwelling Him: “if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God [given Him without measure -John 3:34], then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matt 12:28).

But seeking to better reply to your question in the OP, as to how the finite human nature of Jesus could be sustained and kept by His divine nature “from sinking under the infinite wrath of God”? I’m sorry I have not answered this well previously. And I don’t think I can even now, save perhaps to bring what is beyond our ken clearer into focus.

I’ve been looking through some of my books which touch on this topic, and perhaps W.G.T. Shedd in his, The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, (BOT, 1990 – first published in 1885), gives some light:

“It must be remembered that it is the degree, together with the endlessness of suffering, that constitutes the justice of it. We can conceive of an endless suffering that is marked by little intensity in the degree of it . . . . The infinite incarnate God suffered more agony in Gethsemane [and on the cross, I would add -SMR], than the whole finite human race could suffer in endless duration. Consequently, the uniformity in the endlessness must be combined with a variety in the intensity of suffering, in order to adjust the future punishment to the different grades of sin.” (p. 131)​

This in itself doesn’t answer your question, but it adds that there are differing degrees of intensity of the infinite suffering Jesus Christ experienced. (Cf. Luke 12:47-48; Matt 11:20,21,22,23,24.) Still, how could His finite human nature have endured that? On the one hand, I suppose we humans can never fully comprehend and explain that, and on the other, may it not be that we humans in our fallen estates cannot even imagine what the capacity for experience the sinless humanity of Christ could consist of? How great, although finite, His being as a human was? “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9); see also Col 1:19. Deity dwelt in Jesus Christ bodily — however one might understand that remarkable statement. God was in the Person of Jesus Christ, manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16). Two separate natures, not mingled or confused, in one Person.

So we come to the time beginning in Gethsemane and culminating on the cross where God began to pour forth the wrath of outraged Justice upon the Sin-bearer, the infinite, eternal wrath for the Godhead’s infinite majesty and dignity despised — and Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2), and, being very God, that He “by the power of His Godhead, [might] sustain in His human nature the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.” (HC 17)

That the deity of Christ’s Person could sustain His human soul and body to endure what we can’t even imagine as regards the punishment meted out to Him, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen exactly so. The wrath was infinite and eternal, and the infinite majesty and dignity of the Person who bore the wrath did give infinite worth and satisfaction to the outpoured fury of Justice He bore and endured on that dark but glorious day God was glorified in His Son.
_____

The nature of the wrath — a glimpse

A brief look: from Eryl Davies’ The Wrath of God (Evangelical Press of Wales, 1984), p 52, citing John Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell, pp 57, 53:

“Jonathan Edwards also stresses that the all-important feature of heaven and hell is God Himself. God makes hell and He is hell: ‘God will be the hell of one and the heaven of the other . . . ’Tis the infinite almighty God that shall become the fire of the furnace’. (emphasis added)​

Davies (pp 64, 65) citing The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 2 (BOT 1974), pp 81-83:

“Preaching on Ezekiel 22:14 with the express purpose of revealing the unavoidable and intolerable punishment of the wicked in hell, Edwards asks his hearers to imagine themselves being thrown into a fiery oven or a great furnace for a quarter of an hour:

‘What horror you would feel! . . . And after you had endured it for one minute, how overbearing would it be to you to think that you had to endure if for another fourteen!

‘But what would be the effect on your soul, if you knew you must lie there enduring that torment to the full for twenty-four hours . . . a whole year . . . a thousand years!—O then, how would your hearts sink if you knew that you must bear it for ever and ever! That there would be no end! That after millions and millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, and that you never, never should be delivered!

‘But your torment in hell will be immensely greater than this illustration represents . . .

‘You who now hear of hell and the wrath of the great God, and sit here so easy and quiet, and go away careless; by and by will shake and tremble, and cry out, and shriek, and gnash your teeth, and will be thoroughly convinced of the vast weight and importance of these things which you now despise.’ ”​
_____

That you can’t fathom how it could be, Brandon, is natural. It is an article of faith, really. We toss around the words infinite and eternal, which do speak of both the wrath and of the Son bearing it, and it should lead, among the elect, not only to godly fear and awe, but to worship and adoration rather than doubt and confusion — for who can really understand such great things? But it is what it is, and can only be as the confessions well declare in light of our Scriptures.

From Alexander Nisbet, Exposition of 1 & 2 Peter, (BOT); on 1 Peter 3:18:

As the whole time of Christ’s humiliation was one uninterrupted course of suffering, so by that whole course, and especially by His offering Himself a sacrifice for us upon the cross, He has so completed the work of satisfaction to God’s justice for the sins of the elect, and of purchasing grace and glory to them, that nothing thereof remains to be done, nor need that sacrifice be again repeated: for though His sufferings were finite in regard of duration, yet in regard of the worth which the excellency of His person who was God did add to them, they were infinite: for both in respect of the continuation of His sufferings throughout His state of humiliation, and in regard of the completeness of them for satisfaction to God’s justice, as also in opposition to all the legal sacrifices which for their imperfection behoved to be often repeated, Heb. 7:27, the Apostle says here He hath once suffered for sins. (Pp 142, 143)​

Brandon, I don’t think I can do any better than this, given my very finite and meager understanding’s limitations.
 

Stillwaters

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a question that I’m not sure if there’s an answer to. Since Jesus’ passive obedience was performed in his human nature, how could he have endured infinite wrath if his human nature is finite? I understand Jesus had infinite value as a person, but my question is how he could have suffered an infinite amount? The Westminster Confession of Faith states that,


"It was requisite that the mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God”


But what does it mean that the divine nature “sustained and kept the human nature”? I've never heard this expounded on. Doesn't this require a communication of divine attributes to the human nature?
I was taught it is not the divine or human nature distinctions for the Infinite bearing in a Finite period of time, but that it is because the "Divine Person" is Infinite & Uncreated & Eternal is why Christ could bear the Infinite wrath of God upon the Infinite sins of the elect in a Finite period of time.

No mere mortal "person" (Finite and Created) even if perfectly sinless, righteous, and holy could accomplish this. Only God Incarnate could do this by way of the Divine Person who is the 2nd Person of the Trinity con-substantial with the humanity of His elect.

Furthermore, I was taught that even just 1 tiny little sin incurs an infinite debt, and deserves infnite wrath, and infinite punishment.

And also the sin is against the Eternal, infinite God. And only the "Person" God the Son who is the Eternally Begotten Son could save His people from their sin. Matthew 1:21
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
P.S. Was I taught wrong or incompletely?
I don't think what you've aimed to express in a few words is substantively different from what was above written (or quoted) at length. Just the level of detail, it seems to me. By virtue of both natures, in one Person: by this unique Mediator we are redeemed. None other could do what was necessary.
 

Stillwaters

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't think what you've aimed to express in a few words is substantively different from what was above written (or quoted) at length. Just the level of detail, it seems to me. By virtue of both natures, in one Person: by this unique Mediator we are redeemed. None other could do what was necessary.
Thank you for your kind words. I am aware that the confessions teach the divine nature upheld the human nature, but regarding the Infinite accomplished in a Finite period of time, that is what my Pastor at the time taught me about the Divine Person specifically.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
@TryingToLearn, I wonder if your difficulty might arise from the way in which your question is framed. In other words, by asking how his human nature could have borne infinite wrath, you don't fully address the unity of those two natures in one person.

It is the one person of Christ - at once truly God and truly man, two distinct natures in one person - who died a human death on the cross and bore the infinite weight of God's wrath. To ask how his human nature could bear infinite wrath implies a separation from the divine nature.

Certainly, each nature does what is proper to itself. Jesus with respect to his humanity is not omniscient, yet the one person of Jesus is at the same time omniscient. This is where the incomprehensible mystery lies: how Jesus can be truly God and truly man at once, outside of time and space yet inside of time and space at the same time. That reality is beyond what we can grasp.

What we can grasp is this: the person who died on the cross was fully divine and fully human. The person who bore infinite wrath was fully and truly divine and fully and truly human. His human nature did not bear infinite wrath as some separate entity, such that God could have used any other person for the same end. Christ - in his full divinity and humanity, two natures with their characteristics being preserved and coming together to form ONE person and subsistence - bore God's infinite wrath.

This, incidentally, is why the church rejected Nestorianism. If Christ was merely a divine person united to a separate human person, then in theory anybody could have been our savior. God did not uphold some separate human entity under the weight of infinite wrath. Christ, being at once both truly God and truly man, effectually and entirely accomplished redemption in his one person.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
@TryingToLearn, I wonder if your difficulty might arise from the way in which your question is framed. In other words, by asking how his human nature could have borne infinite wrath, you don't fully address the unity of those two natures in one person.

It is the one person of Christ - at once truly God and truly man, two distinct natures in one person - who died a human death on the cross and bore the infinite weight of God's wrath. To ask how his human nature could bear infinite wrath implies a separation from the divine nature.

Certainly, each nature does what is proper to itself. Jesus with respect to his humanity is not omniscient, yet the one person of Jesus is at the same time omniscient. This is where the incomprehensible mystery lies: how Jesus can be truly God and truly man at once, outside of time and space yet inside of time and space at the same time. That reality is beyond what we can grasp.

What we can grasp is this: the person who died on the cross was fully divine and fully human. The person who bore infinite wrath was fully and truly divine and fully and truly human. His human nature did not bear infinite wrath as some separate entity, such that God could have used any other person for the same end. Christ - in his full divinity and humanity, two natures with their characteristics being preserved and coming together to form ONE person and subsistence - bore God's infinite wrath.

This, incidentally, is why the church rejected Nestorianism. If Christ was merely a divine person united to a separate human person, then in theory anybody could have been our savior. God did not uphold some separate human entity under the weight of infinite wrath. Christ, being at once both truly God and truly man, effectually and entirely accomplished redemption in his one person.
I guess this is where I'm confused because I don't see how Jesus' divine personhood solves this.

To explain what I mean, it's true that Jesus has both a divine and human nature and both do what are proper to it and that both natures are united in one person. However, we wouldn't say that the unity of these natures allows Jesus' human nature to be omnipresent (for only God can be omnipresent, not a creature) or that it allows Jesus' human nature to be omniscient in an archetypal sense. This is simply distinguishing the two natures.

While I understand that it's the divine person of Jesus who suffered, I also understand that he suffered according to the only nature he could suffer in. That's what leads to my question regarding how Jesus' human nature could have endured infinite suffering since it can't receive any divine properties from his divine nature, which would make the human nature able to do something that isn't human (ie be omnipresent, omniscient, or in this case: doing something infinite)

There's no doubt mystery to this, but I'm wondering if I'm misconceiving something christologically and seeing mystery where it's unnecessary
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
While I understand that it's the divine person of Jesus who suffered, I also understand that he suffered according to the only nature he could suffer in. That's what leads to my question regarding how Jesus' human nature could have endured infinite suffering since it can't receive any divine properties from his divine nature, which would make the human nature able to do something that isn't human (ie be omnipresent, omniscient, or in this case: doing something infinite)

There's no doubt mystery to this, but I'm wondering if I'm misconceiving something christologically and seeing mystery where it's unnecessary
The problem with this is that, according to this logic, the Jews crucified a human, and not God. If only the human nature can suffer, then you have de facto separated the human and the divine into two persons. What happens to Jesus happens to the whole person. The moment you stray from that, you've separated him into two persons.

The Incarnate Christ says "I and the father are one". He calls himself the Son of God, and the centurion at his death affirms this: "Surely this was the Son of God". The crimes committed against Jesus were committed against the truly-divine, truly-human single person of Christ. The second person of the Trinity became flesh, was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died a human death (the cursed death of the cross), and underwent a human burial.

Jesus, the God-man, suffered, experienced physical corporeal death, and was buried. His human body was laid in the earth while his human soul ascended into heaven (for the Reformed anyway, though all orthodox Christians affirm that he had a human soul despite disagreement over where it went after his death) while at the same time he was fully God.

I do believe you are seeing the mystery in the wrong place. The mystery is not how the human nature bore infinite suffering. The mystery is how Jesus could be God and man at once, simultaneously omnipresent and spatially-temporally bound, simultaneously all-powerful yet dependent on the Spirit, equal to the father in power and substance yet subordinate to him (though not from eternity) in his mediatorial role. On this, however, there is no mystery: Jesus the God-man suffered, bore the weight for our sins, and felt the weight of God's infinite wrath against sin. Jesus the God-man cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and Jesus the God-man asked for the cup to be taken from him while at the same time perfectly obeying his father's wishes.

The only other possibility, if Jesus only suffered with respect to his humanity, is that God did not die on the cross for our sins; and then we are without a saviour.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
"The problem with this is that, according to this logic, the Jews crucified a human, and not God. If only the human nature can suffer, then you have de facto separated the human and the divine into two persons…The only other possibility, if Jesus only suffered with respect to his humanity, is that God did not die on the cross for our sins; and then we are without a saviour."

This is to deny that God is impassible. Of course the person of Christ suffered, but once again, he suffered in the only nature that he could suffer in (the human one). The divine nature cannot suffer.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
What is proper to say is that the Person suffered by virtue of his human nature. Persons act, natures are. The divine second Person, who has an eternal divine nature, took on a human nature; so now he is whole in Person through the union of those natures (how so is explained in the Chalcedonian symbol explicating the hypostatic union). He wasn't less-than-whole prior to the Incarnation, but afterward to not be the theanthropos would render him less-than-whole. So the assumption of humanity is permanent.

No, what is divine of Christ knew no suffering, being in accord with the divine nature impassible. However, the Person did suffer; and the manner was through his possession of a human nature. It is proper to say it was "God's blood" that was shed on the cross, Act.20:28. It is fitting to sing in the hymn, And Can It Be, "...that thou, my God, didst die for me," provided one says so with the understanding we confess (WCF 8.7) "...yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature."

WHO was crucified on the cross was the Second Person, Jesus Christ; those who crucified him did not crucify a NATURE, but a Person; however they did this injury to him in his humanity.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top